Morning sickness

With their anarchic brand of toilet humour, it is no wonder children love Dick and Dom's Saturday show - or that politicians are up in arms about it. Julia Stuart meets the duo who Auntie's hoping will beat Ant and Dec in the prime-time game

Dick and Dom are smirking in front of me like a couple of boys who've just let off a stink bomb. The current bout of snickering has arisen from a question I've asked them about an item known to their half- million fans as "Bogeys", one of the hottest scenes on the iconoclastic children's Saturday morning show, Dick & Dom In da Bungalow, which they front.

A simple game, by any standards, Bogeys requires the couple to turn up in public places and say the word "bogeys" at each other, at ever-increasing volume, until such point as they collapse with the sheer hilarity of the enterprise, or are forcibly removed from the building.

Judging by their faces, it's clear that Richard McCourt, 28, and Dominic Wood, 27, find the item nothing short of genius. I'm beginning to feel like a headmistress who's summoned the pair to my office to justify their silly behaviour. The atmosphere isn't exactly helped by the fact that an extremely officious BBC press officer has decreed it necessary to sit in on our conversation, listening to our every word like an overprotective parent.

I'm not the first person who has suggested that encouraging young children to shout "bogeys" at each other across crowded spaces might not be the most judicious application of the BBC's charter. Peter Luff, the Conservative assistant chief whip and MP for Mid Worcestershire, has been so horrified by Bogeys and other items on In da Bungalow that he recently condemned it in the House of Commons, demanding that the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, justify the corporation's service remit and inviting her into his office to view the programme's website.

"You can join me in playing How Low Can You Bungalow, a test to see your response to grossly embarrassing personal situations, largely of a lavatorial nature," Luff raged. "Pants Dancers in the Hall of Fame, photos of children with underwear on their heads; Make Dick Sick, a game which I think speaks for itself; and finally Bunged Up, in which you play a character in a sewerage system avoiding turtles' poos coming from various lavatories. Is that really the stuff of public service broadcasting?"

Luff's voice has been only one of the more prominent expressing concern. Since the media watchdog Ofcom was set up in December 2003, In da Bungalow has received 28 complaints, most of them about condoning bad behaviour.

But does the criticism bother Dick and Dom? Does it heck. Neither does it bother the growing army of young fans who are now faithfully switching on the BBC on a Saturday morning. In fact, the controversy is probably welcomed by BBC executives, who will reportedly be backing the duo to challenge the extraordinary hold of the ubiquitous Ant and Dec over the young adult audience when Dick and Dom make their move into a teatime slot as hosts of its Ask the Family show on BBC2 in the spring.

This may not be such a ridiculous suggestion. Young, irrepressible and infinitely cheeky, the careers of the two duos bear some uncanny similarities. Like ITV's golden boys, Ant and Dec, Dick and Dom met when they were teenagers working in children's television. Dick, who comes from Sheffield, was doing the links between children's programmes on the BBC. Dom, from Exeter, turned up to promote an ill-fated show called The Friday Zone, which he describes as an attempt at bringing back Crackerjack that "didn't really work". The pair also shared a flat for five years and, like Ant and Dec, are frequently mistaken for being a couple. (For the record, Dom is engaged, while Dick has just been chucked by his girlfriend.)

So, are they trying to oust Ant and Dec as the most popular duo on television? Of course not, they bluster. They have no ambitions to follow in the footsteps of Ant and Dec. "Everyone compares us to Ant and Dec, and we've always admired them," Dick says. "But what we do is very, very different. We don't see ourselves in suits on a Saturday night, like them."

"That's not what we're about," Dom says. "We want to go a bit more left field, a bit more Young Ones." It hardly seems worth pointing out that Ask the Family is far removed from the ethos of that anarchic comedy series starring Ade Edmondson and Rik Mayall, but watching In da Bungalow, you can see how the Eighties comedy has informed much of their style and shares the same puerile sense of humour.

It's a style Dick and Dom aren't ready to apologise for. "In da Bungalow doesn't educate children at all," Dom says, with apparent glee. "They get educated during the week with programmes like Blue Peter and Newsround. The good thing about our show is that it is complete escapism."

Dick is equally unrepentant. "The show is the highlight of our careers so far. I don't think we will ever beat it. It's the best rush ever. Hopefully, this show will be talked about for a few years to come. Hopefully, they will remember it in a good way."

Children's television is no stranger to criticism. The accusations levelled against Dick and Dom echo those once made against the custard pie-smothered Tiswas 30 years ago, a show that also delighted droves of children and which the duo cite as a major influence. In 1997, Teletubbies was accused of debasing young minds. This week, SpongeBob SquarePants, Nickelodeon's new feature-length animation, arrives on these shores pursued by a chorus of disapproval from the American right, who say the character promotes homosexuality.

When I ask Dick and Dom how much responsibility they feel they should shoulder for the show, they become uncharacteristically touchy. They don't devise the show, they say. If anyone wants to point the finger, they say, it should be directed at the production team who come up with the ideas for the games. Bogeys, for example, was the brainchild of Steve Ryde, the producer, who used to play it as a schoolboy using the word "rollocks".

It's a convenient excuse, but they can't deny that, as the hosts of a live, unscripted show, they have broad control over the format. "Obviously we've got to span to different audiences, because it's on on a Saturday morning and there are going to be adults, teenagers and students watching," Dom says. "So you have to have a bit of something for everybody there, otherwise it becomes like CBeebies, which is totally safe - and nobody else is going to want to watch that. You've got to have tiny little things that, for someone who's 12 years old and upwards, are quite tee-hee funny."

Things like Dirty Norris, presumably, one of the ingredients they add to the concoction ingested in the Make Dick Sick game. "You don't want to know how that got its name," Dick says. "Of course she does," Dom counters.

"Remember Norris McWhirter from Record Breakers?" asks Dick. Yes. "Our producer's slang for going to the loo for a No 2 was a Norris McWhirter - squirter. His friends just used to call it a Norris, but we added the dirty to it."

"It used to be Marmite on CBBC, when health and safety regulations weren't in place as firmly as they are now," Dom says. "So we used to pour a bucket of Marmite on a kid's head, and it used to crawl over their head like an animal."

"And they couldn't get it out of their hair properly," continues Dick. "It was like a big chocolate poo hat," Dom says. "So we had to change it, and now it's chocolate sauce."

It's easy to see why Dick and Dom are so popular. Their ability to slip inside the minds of the children they entertain is extraordinary, and they delight in every gory detail of the lavatorial humour. But their reluctance to address the criticism is compounded when their PR mentions, in a later phone call, that "the boys should not be expected to talk about the wider issues of children's entertainment" and that if I want to ask about the future of children's television at the BBC, I will need to speak to one of the heads of entertainment.

I get the impression that, unlike Ant and Dec, who exercise huge control over their output, Dick and Dom are still very much at the mercy of their bosses, malleable tools being egged on by the bigger boys to get themselves into trouble and win back viewers for the Beeb.

And good luck to them. They'll soon be too old to be farting on television, and their last bucket of gunge will be thrown in March 2006. In the meantime, they cannot move without someone shouting "bogeys" at them. Do they mind?

"No, it's great fun," Dom says. Dick gives him a look of incredulity. "Someone on your day off shouting `bogeys' at you? I flipping do. When people see us out in the street they expect us to be exactly like we are on the show. Our normal personalities are a little bit more boring and grumpy than that. But at least it's not `rollocks'," he says.

I think it's time to go.

DICK & DOM

Age Dick, 28; Dom, 27

Born Dick, Sheffield;

Dom, Exeter

Hair Choppy, cheeky, brown

Height Dick, 5ft 10in; Dom, 5ft 4in

Girlfriends Dom engaged

to Sandi; Dick single

Hours 9-12am Saturday, Sunday

Highlights In da Bungalow

Next step Teatime quiz show

Ask the Family

First job Dick, paper boy;

Dom, worked in a magic shop

Hobbies Dick, panto; Dom,

magic (he was British Magical

Champion in 1998)

ANT & DEC

Age Ant, 29; Dec, 29

Born Newcastle

Hair Cheeky, choppy, brown

Height Ant, 5ft 8in; Dec, 5ft 6in

Girlfriends Ant with girlfriend

Lisa; Dec and long-term

girlfriend Clare recently split

Hours Saturday nights, early

mornings in Australia

Highlights Pop Idol

Next step More I'm a Celebrity...

First job both acting in

Byker Grove

Hobbies Supporting Newcastle

United, drinking with Robbie

Williams, pub quizzes

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement